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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun. 14, 2006
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    VA
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    Default Introducing kids to horses...and dealing with the "extras"

    Situation:

    SO has two girls. 10 and 12 YO who live with us most of the time. Both kids have shown some interest in riding and have done lots of the "tail rides".

    So, at Xmas, I was going to gift them with riding lessons. I have a steady eddy mare they can ride. Trainer/BO also bought a good lesson horse. We have plenty o' horses. Ex-wife vetoed the idea because she "couldn't compete" with such a gift.

    So we left it in December with, "Girls, get up to speed by going out and with BuddyRoo and then in the spring, we'll do formal lessons."

    Only, they haven't shown much interest. If I invite them, they're excited, but they never ASK to go. Which to me is weird because even though I had access to horses as a kid (my family has always had horses) I was ALWAYS begging to ride.

    FF to this weekend. SO asks "When are we going to begin lessons?" And I say, "Well, they're not really showing much interest so I'd say save your money on gear and such."

    To which he replies that they just need to be "exposed" more. He insists that we should just plan on every Sat a.m. as a "lesson" and get them going.

    Fine. But that's a 4 hour committment on my part with the drive.

    Then he informs me that the ex will want to go too. And she's nuts guys. Histrionic, screams at the drop of the hat, nuts. And that's me being diplomatic.

    so now I'm looking at going to my BUSY, TRAINING barn, with HIGH LEVEL RIDERS, every Saturday a.m. with four guests. None of whom get any of it. Two of whom used to be married.

    Now I'm getting the real gloom and doom. I cannot afford ex-marital drama BS at my barn. I don't want to get kicked out. But I can't control them either. AND deal with two kids. I'd LOVE to give them experience, but they're really not ready to ride with my trainer--they are on lead lines only now and are ages 10 and 12.


    So. Here's the question:

    1) how do I make once a week "lessons" fun AND educational?
    2) how do I mitigate risk of ex spouses having a knock down dragout at my boarding barn?
    3) how do I encourage everyone to not be idiots so I can actually enjoy my horse?

    Help.

    I want to give the kids every opportunity. But all of a sudden I realize that this is the WORST idea I EVER had.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  2. #2
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    Oct. 10, 2006
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    Gotham City
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    Default

    Is summer camp an option? A week or two with horses, but without parents and stepparents, to see if riding is something they really want to do?
    "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr. 15, 2008
    Location
    Orlean, Va
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    Default

    I like the summer camp idea. Diplomatic, gives them distance from parents, so space to see if it is something that they like. They may be "un-interested" because they have misery from their mom if you do it.

    You get to be out of the middle. You have enough on your plate without getting your sanctuary zotted.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb. 19, 2009
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    4,220

    Default

    ummm...just say no? This does not sound like a good situation for all involved. You're putting your sanity and reputation on the line, dad is forcing kids to get involved in an activity they don't seem to be passionate about, kids don't really seem to care and the ex is going to tag along.

    If they're serious about this, help them find another barn that might be better suited to their level, and isn't such a commitment on everyone's part.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2004
    Location
    Catonsville, MD
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    Default

    One thing to bear in mind, in my experience, is that it is HIGHLY unlikely that the Ex will want to come out every week, after she spends a longish morning with you and the kids catching the horse and brushing the horse and tacking the horse up and riding for x minutes and then untacking, grooming, cleaning tack, and putting horse back out (your routine may vary, but you get my drift)

    Bore the adults (and possibly the kids) away, and see if they stop coming to the barn of their own volition. It could very easily happen this way. Then you would be able to gauge the kids' actual level of interest. Maybe instead of making it an open-ended commitment, tell them all that it's a six week intro, and that they have to be serious about it and really want to do it for you to extend it beyond that.

    In my experience, no one but me finds all that other stuff interesting at all. Everyone else is bored out of their brains by the full range of horse care activities. It's a great way to get rid of tourists. ;-) It is tempting, with newbies, to try to spare them the tedious stuff; this is a mistake. If they are unwilling to shovel poop and rinse off bits and sweep the aisle, this is not the hobby for them. Of course riding is fun! It's actually caring for horses that separates the horsie peeps from the tourists.
    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09




  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 31, 2006
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    264

    Default

    I will also vote for summer camp. They will be with kids their own age and you will be out of it. Hopefully you will be able to figure out at the end of the session whether or not they have the "bug". If so, then you go from there. Maybe summer camp would be less threatening to the ex.

    Wow. Good luck.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar. 14, 2010
    Posts
    398

    Default

    I also vote summer camp, and if you can't go that route, I strongly suggest saying that the ex cannot come along. It sounds like there is a very high likelihood for drama, and you don't want to be associated with that. Riding in your passion and your solace. It's not right for the ex to come out and complicate this part of your life.

    Is there maybe a rule about visitors at the barn? Or can you invent one? Maybe only 3 guests are allowed?

    If you absolutely must do this in the way your SO wants, I'd suggest putting yourself in the most isolated place possible. Ie, have your SO, ex, and kids wait outside the round pen, you bring the horse there, and do EVERYTHING in the round pen: grooming, tacking, riding, etc. Then send everyone to the car and take horse back to its stall. That will at least limit the crazy lady's exposure to anyone else at the barn.

    Good luck, and be firm. You don't have to do this if it's not a good idea. And you certainly don't have to do it again if the first time proves to be a disaster.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    Default

    Sorry, that seems like a dysfunctional family situation.

    Rather than teach kids about personal space and boundaries, letting the x be part of the new family to that extent is never a good idea and maybe a very bad idea when the x is on the bad crazy side.

    The horse situation at the barn seems a bad idea as described and not fair to the others at the barn, that this is their quiet time with their horses, not a time to watch others self destruct.

    I like the camp idea.
    That still won't make them that passionate about horses if it is not there, but sure will teach them much, especially if they have any interest for horses at all.

    Face it, kids either are or are not nuts about horses and today, kids can do so much more, horses, unless an unrelenting passion, just can't compete for long.

    Find what the kids really like and go do that with them, without the x.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar. 30, 2001
    Location
    MD, USA
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    4,822

    Default

    Many of the lesson dads I see would rather be just about anywhere else! They suck it up and bring the kids only when their more interested wife can't for some reason. Maybe yours will end up like that. Really, if you're not into riding, how exciting can it be to watch "heels down" over and over for an hour?

    Why does the ex want to come? This isn't a school talent show or recital, it's just lessons. The whole family doesn't have to watch. If the kids ever show, I can see her wanting to attend. But lessons? Maybe the first couple to make sure the kids are safe, etc. Is there any way you can tell her she's welcome to come to the first couple to make sure it's okay and then it will be better to have a smaller audience?



  10. #10
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    Jun. 14, 2006
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    VA
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    Default

    I posted elsewhere looking for ideas about how to help the kids get excited...but i have gotten flak in the past for mentioning the ex-wife portion.

    And that, frankly, is a big deal. I don't want to deal with it. Why does she want to come? Just to keep a hand in things. Shoot, she showed up at a family get together last night after a funeral--uninvited. She has no couth. Really.

    Horse "camp" is not an option unfortunately. This is it.

    I had a brief discussion with dad tonight about my expectations. I'll give it a shot. But I haven't gotten to ride in over a month due to my PT job. I'm really looking forward to having some time w/ my horse ALONE. And while I'd LOVE to get the kids involved, I'm not real geeked about this.

    I will say that 10 min ago, we asked kid #2 if she was still interested in lessons and her eyes lit up. Maybe it's just not seemed like a real option to her. We are going to talk to them both about expectations.

    I told him that MY expectations are that before I spend my money on lessons, they have to WT and be able to have full steering and whoa AND tack up. I'm not going to spend 40 bucks per half hour per kid for a tack up lesson.
    A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

    Might be a reason, never an excuse...



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan. 30, 2010
    Location
    Alberta
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    3,348

    Default

    The kids may be relunctant to act excited if their mom is opposed to the riding lessons. Mom sounds like she is insecure, and afraid that the riding lessons will win the kids over to "your side", and that is likely why she wants to be there. Or it could just be that she wants to see her kids ride for the first time.

    By the sounds of it, you raised the idea right? So it seems to me that it is up to you to try to make it work....mom included.

    I would try to find a barn kid to help you out with the lessons/prep time...might make it less stressful.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr. 28, 2006
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    1,621

    Default

    Hmmm....Do you have kids? Have you been married before? If not, either back away now while you can, or get used to having alot of "extras". There is a good chance that the EX is badmouthing the riding and lessons when the kids are at her house, and then with the dad encouraging it on his end it makes the girls too uncomfortbale to go either way- so they act uninterested in the hopes of keeping the peace. Perhaps taking the girls one at a time for quiet one on one "girl time at the barn" with out dad or ex there would help alot. If you guys get married or are together for any future length of tiem there will be lots of time to involve the girls in horses, why rush it now? It is almost like dad wants them to like you so he is pushing your hobby and interests on them, and they may see you as the pusher...which will cause more drama with the ex...lol.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar. 13, 2007
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    Northern Virginia, 45 minutes east of paradise - 2 hrs during rush hour
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    Default

    You were being very generous with the offer but honestly, do you really want to spoil your horse time with this? You pay a lot for your horses, your time with them is special, try to keep it that way.
    I have children, who are now adults. I love kids. I am not anti-kid. I am seriously anti-nutcase. I am pro-relaxation and "me" time.
    The kids will get older and as they do you may have a better opportunity to teach them to ride without the nutter getting involved. In the meantime, perhaps they can go with you to the barn, occasionally, in an unplanned way. Special time.
    It already hurts you, just to think about it. What is the old joke? " Patient says,"Doctor it hurts when I do this." Doctor says "Then stop doing that"
    "The mighty oak is a nut who stood its ground"

    "...you'll never win Olympic gold by shaking a carrot stick at a warmblood..." see u at x



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb. 26, 2008
    Location
    Michigan
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    gawd! their mom sounds like a PITA

    you just know she is going to cause "drama". not to mention no one wants a squealing maniac at the barn..

    Id be willing to bet that, next thing you know, she will show up at your barn (to see your horse) even when you are not there.

    why cant she just let D2 and his girls have the "horse thing" for themselves? it would be really nice for them

    jeesh!

    I would just explain to him that if she goes, she cannot speak, squeal, give dirty looks, stomp feet, throw herself on the ground, etc. etc... she is to "sit there quietly"

    Id also tell her that if she is not a boarder, or student, she is not allowed in the horse area ("sorry, those are just the rules, and only one parent allowed back in horse area"), and has to remain in the observation room... she'll get board with that real quick.

    if "mommy dearest" could chill, I would just try a few lessons and see if they even want to persue..
    Last edited by Jumpin_Horses; May. 5, 2010 at 11:18 AM.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2004
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    Catonsville, MD
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    Adding the note: I am so sympathetic, it's hard to deal w/ exes. I have been w/ Mr. Lori B 4 years (today), and he has 2 kids, 13 & 15. While there are terse moments, the ex and Steve are on the whole very appropriately behaved. But stepping into that spot can be challenging.

    My steps are city kids and don't want to get dirty or go to the barn.

    What you are offering to do is a very kind thing, and I hope that whatever you decide to do works out and isn't rewarded with bad adult behavior.
    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09




  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    There are all kinds of people and each one has to live our lives the way it suits us best.
    Then, I wonder about two adults in a new relationship that don't see the lack of boundaries by the now ex still being there.

    My opinion is that it is nice that after a divorce the parents can stay polite or even better still be friends.
    BUT, after one, the other or both are in a new monogamous relationship, the now ex should step out of their lives and go on with it's own, I think.

    I would think odd for any ex to go do things as a family, because it is not part of the new family any more.
    There is a reason why they are ex, especially a nutty ex.

    I think this situation around the horses and the barn would be a great place to decide if and how to set sensible boundaries, always being sure the kids don't get caught in the middle of any adults jostling for those boundaries.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov. 18, 2004
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    Catonsville, MD
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    Default

    Bluey, I don't think that BR is confused about the Ex's continued presence being a problem; I think she just doesn't have any control over it. The person who is overdue to step up is Dad, who needs to say, "Time that the kids are with me is time that they are with me, and you are welcome to spend time with them when they are with you."

    People who are nutty and poorly behaved often use that trait to get what they want and to scare normal and well-behaved people out of calling them on their $hit, in my opinion. And I would wonder if that is the Ex's MO.
    I tolerate all kinds of animal idiosyncrasies.
    I've found that I don't tolerate people idiosyncrasies as well. - Casey09




  18. #18
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    Jan. 4, 2007
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    TX
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lori B View Post
    Bluey, I don't think that BR is confused about the Ex's continued presence being a problem; I think she just doesn't have any control over it. The person who is overdue to step up is Dad, who needs to say, "Time that the kids are with me is time that they are with me, and you are welcome to spend time with them when they are with you."

    People who are nutty and poorly behaved often use that trait to get what they want and to scare normal and well-behaved people out of calling them on their $hit, in my opinion. And I would wonder if that is the Ex's MO.
    I know BR enough to know she is not confused, but for what she tells, maybe she is in a confusing situation, as you say, trying to do right and not be the one to stir up trouble.

    I think BR is just running ideas by us and, her horse and horse time meaning much to her and those here, any and all angles are I think interesting.

    I agree, it looks like it is time for the man to be the one to set the boundaries and expect them to be respected.



  19. #19
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    Oct. 31, 2001
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    West of insanity, east of apathy, deep in the heart of Texas.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CHT View Post
    The kids may be relunctant to act excited if their mom is opposed to the riding lessons. Mom sounds like she is insecure, and afraid that the riding lessons will win the kids over to "your side", and that is likely why she wants to be there.
    I agree with this. Since the ex is so contentious, it's anyone's guess how much flak she's giving the kids about your offer of lessons. They may be afraid to tell you how much they want to ride, because of Mommie Dearest. I would at least try it once, but strongly discourage MD from coming. Something along the lines of "This is our time with the kids." might be helpful, if SO will agree to tell her, because that can't come from you. Either way, don't let MD near your barn or horses. I have a feeling, from your description, that she's so socially inept that you'll guarantee yourself an Oscar-worthy drama if she accompanies you and the kids.

    Good luck.
    In loving memory of Laura Jahnke.
    A life lived by example, done too soon.
    www.caringbridge.org/page/laurajahnke/



  20. #20
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    Jul. 19, 2007
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    They also just may not be the kind to beg, plead, etc even if they are interested. I think I outgrew the nagging kid phase pretty fast (like once I actually had a pony.) Once I HAD an animal, going to the barn was something I HAD to do, like going to school, walking the dog when I was old enough, feeding the fish, etc. Part of the job of having animals. (And with my first h/j trainer I'd ask not to go or would fake sick to avoid lessons. Eventually my parents figured out the problem and found me another instructor.) They just might not have to been raised to pester adults for things, especially if the marriage and divorce lead to a not-so-peaceful household.

    I would bet the ex will last one barn visit. Though, really...is it possible for you to go with the girls, and if she insists on coming, you boyfriend stay home? Because she may be nuts, but having her ex around is probably the single best way to exacerbate things. Without Dad there to blame, if she starts to look like a witch she can't blame him for 'starting' it. I would think she would likely get quite bored if the first few lessons are uneventful.

    And though I don't know the dynamics between you and her--perhaps making it clear this is YOUR thing and the girls are interested, and NOT your boyfriend's attempt to out-gift/upstage her would be easier without him present? The statement about "I can't match that" is a red flag for me that she thinks this is either him using you to bribe them, or your attempt to displace her. Perhaps it would be best for her to see this is NOT about you trying to take over or her ex trying to be supercool generous dad, but just the girls getting to do something they might like. His being there wouldn't really help that case.



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